France Urges United Nations to Act on Syria Crisis

On Friday, France announced that it was calling on the United Nations to guarantee the safe evacuation of people in Aleppo. It is also urging the UN to make sure it is organised by international observers. Furthermore, hospitals should be protected and humanitarian aid should be provided for the civilians.

Francois Delattre, the French U.N. Ambassador, drew up a draft resolution to the 15-member council following a briefing by U.N. aid chief Stephen O’Brien. Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations advised that dialogues would commence on Friday.

She said to reporters: “We’re hoping to vote over the weekend at least because of the extreme urgency.”

On Friday, the evacuation of civilians from the last remaining opposition-held areas of Aleppo had to be put on hold because pro-government militias said the injured should also be taken from two Shi’ite villages that have been besieged by rebel fighters.

Vitaly Churkin, the Russian U.N. Ambassador, said that although he had not seen a copy, it seemed like Russia was already carrying out everything the draft resolution stated. 

He said: “Now France comes in and says that they’re actually on top of it all and they’re showing the right way to do things on the ground. If it is a sensible initiative and we see it on paper, why not entertain this initiative.”

He also said that he wanted UN agencies to have a greater participation in Aleppo. However, he also said that deploying UN observers is pointless because it would take several weeks, so the International Committee for the Red Cross which is already on the ground should be used.

The French and US ambassadors to the United Nations confirmed that UN resources and officials are already in Syria. 

Power said: “The issue is that the regime, Russia and Iran and the militia they are backing aren’t allowing U.N. people to reach civilians and then to be present at the sites where people are crossing from eastern Aleppo into other territory.”

Russia is an ally of Syria and has provided military support to dictator Bashar al-Assad and his troops. Since the beginning of conflict in 2011, Russia has vetoed six Security Council resolutions on Syria. China has vetoed five resolutions. 

Delattre said: “If we have no consensus within the Security Council we would go for an emergency special session of the General Assembly.”

A 1950 resolution states that an emergency special session can be called for the 193-member General Assembly to discuss a matter “with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures” if the Security Council fails to act.

A session like this can be called by either nine members of the Security Council or by an assembly majority. It is possible that it adopts a resolution that advises action. Although such resolutions are not binding, they do however hold political weight.